Search by IRC, Industry, sector, training package, IRC skills forecast or occupation.

Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design


This page provides high level information on the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design industry, which comprises the following sectors:

  • Dance and Musical Theatre
  • Live Production Services
  • Music
  • Screen and Media
  • Visual Arts, Craft and Design.

For more information on any of the above sectors, please visit the respective sector page.

The Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design industry includes a broad range of individuals and organisations, producing artistic and creative works for both commercial and social outcomes. The diverse nature of the industry makes it difficult to define and measure. In addition to other benefits, artists in this industry can attract international tourism to Australia for culture events and products. Creative skills are also increasingly in demand in other industries, with training from this industry one way of offering this.

In 2016-17, it was estimated that cultural and creative activity contributed $111.7 billion to Australia’s economy which equates to over 6% of GDP. In addition, at the end of 2016-17 there were close to 12,000 businesses operating as Creative Artists, Musicians, Writers and Performers, over 500 Performing Arts Venue Operation businesses and a further 10,000 businesses of various sizes operating across Motion Picture and Video Production, Museum Operation and Performing Arts Operation.

Nationally recognised training for this sector is delivered under the CUA – Creative Arts and Culture Training Package.

Information is sourced from the most recently available skills forecast, the Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Forecast.

All data sources are available at the end of the page.

IRC and skills forecasts

The Culture and Related Industries IRC was not required to submit an annual update to their 2019 Skills Forecast during 2020. As such, the version published in 2019 remains the most recently published Skills Forecast for this industry.

Culture and Related Industries IRC

Industry cluster snapshot

Please note: any employment projections outlined below were calculated by the Australian Bureau of Statistics prior to COVID-19.

Employment and training snapshot

The employment level in the Creative and Performing Arts industry rose between 2000 and 2019, to a high of approximately 51,400 but suffered a significant fall in 2020, down to approximately 30,900. Although this industry does not include all possible workers in the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design cluster, it is a good indicator of the general trends affecting the cluster. Employment in this industry is projected to grow between to around 57,100 in 2024.

The most common VET-related occupations in this industry are: Music Professionals; Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals; and Actors, Dancers and Other Entertainers. Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals and Actors, Dancers and Other Entertainers are expected to see growth of approximately 10% and 9% respectively over the same period.

Program enrolments were consistent in 2015 and 2016 but have since trended down from roughly 71,760 in 2016 to approximately 66,000 in 2019. Similarly, completions have slowly declined from 25,640 in 2015 to approximately 22,980 in 2019. In 2019 there were 429,020 subjects delivered as part of a nationally recognised training program, compared to 7,860 delivered which were not part of a nationally recognised training program.

Arts administrative and cultural services

Arts administrative and culture services are a small sub-set of the Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design industry cluster, with only 219 enrolments and 20 program completions in this area in 2019. This prevents detailed analysis on trends within this field, but some high-level training information is shown here.

There have been small fluctuations for program enrolments in arts administrative and cultural services, with a slight decrease between 2015 and 2016 (154 and 145 respectively), followed by an increase to 219 in 2019. Program completions gradually increased from 32 in 2015 to 59 in 2017, but have since fallen to 20 in 2019. Qualifications at the Certificate IV level were slightly more prevalent (100), with the next largest proportion of enrolments at the Certificate III (80) and the remainder at certificate II level (40). The largest proportion of enrolments in 2019 were in Arts Administration (180).

Industry insights on skill needs

The Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identifies four top priority skills for the industry, including:

  • Health and safety
  • Customer service, teamwork and communication
  • Self-promotion and marketing
  • Critical and creative problem solving

According to the Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast the top key generic skills in Arts, Culture, Entertainment and Design are:

  • Communication/Collaboration including virtual collaboration/Social intelligence
  • Design mindset/Thinking critically/System thinking/Solving problems
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Learning agility/Information literacy/Intellectual autonomy and self-management (adaptability)
  • Technology use and application
  • Customer service/Marketing

The Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast identified three key opportunities and challenges for employers and learners in the sector; these include creative skills for all sectors, keeping pace with the changing nature of work in the sector and keeping up with technological advances which are changing how creative workers produce art and services.

Although changes and advancements in technology are having widespread impacts across all industries, it’s anticipated that the demand for creative skills in all sectors will continue to grow as these types of skills are generally resistant to changing technologies. The ability to present information creatively, think critically and solve problems in new and novel ways is expected to be in high demand across sectors. This presents an opportunity for the CUA Training Package to expand and develop core creative skills in a way that they can be used and accessed by VET learners from different industries.

The rise of the gig economy is expected to further impact an industry that has already high levels of sole trader or portfolio-based professions. Ensuring workers can keep pace with this changing nature of work in the sector could be addressed through changes to the CUA Training Package. These changes could include preparing learners with the skills required to make the most of the opportunities presented in this sector, such as accessing crowd funding and participating in emerging and established digital-only platforms for art and creativity.

Technology is changing how creative workers produce art and services through advancements like 3D printing, augmented reality and virtual reality. These advancements present artists with new ways to create art, however, technical skills are needed in order to keep pace with these opportunities. As a result, there are opportunities for the CUA Training Package to adapt and expose learners to new technologies and prepare them with the associated skills.

An additional factor affecting the industry is the availability of income which can be both a challenge and opportunity, as artists and workers often rely on multiple sources of income. Income for creative workers also tends to reflect current economic conditions, with more available income during strong economic times. Figures from 2016 indicate that applications for financial assistance were made by 55% of artists (with 37% receiving funding as a result of their applications). Due to the uncertain nature of government funding, it’s becoming increasingly important for creative workers to engage philanthropy and corporate sponsorship, requiring a new set of entrepreneurial skills. Concerns have been raised about the impact this will have to the socioeconomic diversity of the industry, therefore government policies have been developed in order to expand employment opportunities and ensure socioeconomic diversity within the industry.

The AFTRS industry skills survey identifies training skills gaps in the areas of: social media and digital marketing, production management, business planning, leadership skills and brand development, and marketing. Further skills gaps are identified in the areas of project financing, script/project development and assessment, business planning, legal/contracting/rights negotiation, and emerging technologies. The survey also identifies the industry’s desire to use short courses to up-skill.

The Creative Skills for the Future Economy by the Department of Communication and Arts also outlines that as the trend towards automation of goods and services continues, the demand for creative skills will increase, particularly as the associated roles and occupations are harder to automate. Creative skills expand beyond the traditional ‘creative’ fields, with it estimated that close to 10% of the Australian workforce in 2016 held a ‘creative’ qualification as their highest level of qualification.

In addition, a report by the South Australian Training and Skills Commission supports findings that the industry is being shaped and impacted by changing and emerging technology, but also highlights concerns surrounding the current training system’s ability to keep pace with these new skill requirements. The findings of this report outline the need for training in rapidly emerging technologies such as augmented reality and 3D printing will be needed in the coming years.

COVID-19 impact

All parts of the Arts sector have been impacted by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic. Australia Council for the Arts details several surveys outlining the impacts of the pandemic. Of these, one reports $325 million of lost income for the performing arts as of April 1st 2020, not including projected future losses. Another survey reports that as of April 2, losses for the Dance sector were at 5.6 million. For visual arts, $49.4 million in losses were reported as of March 25th 2020.

Links and resources

Below is a list of industry-relevant research, organisations and associations. Hyperlinks have been included where available.


Relevant research

Crafting Self: Promoting and Making Self in the Creative Micro-Economy – Susan Luckman, Jane Andrew and Tracy Crisp for the School of Creative Industries, University of South Australia

Creative Skills for the Future Economy – Department of Communications and Arts, Bureau of Communications and Arts Research

Information, Media, and Telecommunications: South Australia’s Industry Priority Qualifications 2018 – South Australian Training and Skills Commission (TASC)

Summary of data measuring the impacts of COVID-19 on the Australian arts sector - Australia Council for the Arts

The business of creativity: Industry Skills Survey results 2019 - Australian Film Television and Radio School


Industry associations and advisory bodies

Accessible Arts

Association of Music Educators (Vic) Inc.


Australasian Lighting Industry Association

Australasian Music Publishers Association

Australasian Performing Right Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society

Australia Council for the Arts

Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts

Australian Commercial & Entertainment Technologies Association

Australian Design Alliance

Australian Fashion Chamber

Australian Graphic Design Association Inc.

Australian Independent Record Labels Association

Australian Major Performing Arts Group

Australian Music Association

Australian Music Examinations Board

Australian Music Industry Network

Australian Network for Art and Technology

Australian Photographic Society

Australian Publishers Association

Australian Recording Industry Association

Australian Screen Association

Blak Dance

Cultural Development Network

Design Institute of Australia

Diversity Arts Australia

Independent Theatre Association

Live Performance Australia

Music Australia

National Association for the Visual Arts

Printing Industries Association of Australia

Regional Arts Australia

Screen Australia

Screen Producers Australia

The Australasian Association for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies

Theatre Network Australia

World Crafts Council Australia


Employee associations

Australian Artists Association

Australian Directors' Guild

Australian Guild of Screen Composers

Australian Society of Authors

Australian Songwriters Association

Australian Sound Recordings Association

Australian Writers' Guild

Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

Data sources and notes

Department of Employment 2020, Employment Projections, available from the Labour Market Information Portal

  • by ANZSIC 3 digit Creative and Performing Arts Industry, employment projections to May 2024
  • by ANZSCO, selected occupations , employment projections to May 2024
    • Actors, Dancers and Other Entertainers
    • Artistic Directors, and Media Producers and Presenters
    • Arts Professionals nfd
    • Film, Television, Radio and Stage Directors
    • Music Professionals
    • Performing Arts Technicians
    • Visual Arts and Crafts Professionals.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2020, Employed persons by industry group of main job (ANZSIC), Sex, State and Territory, November 1984 onwards, 6291.0.55.003 - EQ06, viewed 1 August 2020

  • Employed total by ANZSIC 3 digit Creative and Performing Arts Industry, 2000 to 2020, May Quarter.


Australian Bureau of Statistics 2017, 2016 Census – employment, income and unpaid work, TableBuilder. Findings based on use of ABS TableBuilder data.

  • Employment level by 3 digit Creative and Performing Arts Industry, and 4 digit level occupations to identify the relevant VET-related occupations in the industry as a proportion of the total workforce.


Priority skills data has been extracted from the Culture and Related Industries IRC’s 2019 Skills Forecast. Each IRC has prioritised and ranked the generic skills, which have been given a score according to their ranking.

Training data has been extracted from the National VET Provider Collection, Total VET Students and Courses by CUE Creative Arts and Culture, CUV Arts and Culture, CUF Screen and Media and CUE Entertainment Training Packages. This includes superseded qualifications and training packages.

Data covers a range of selected student and training characteristics in the following categories and years:

  • 2015 to 2019 program enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 subject enrolments
  • 2015 to 2019 program completions.


Arts Administrative and Cultural Services:

  • Arts Administration
  • CUA30615 - Certificate III in Arts Administration
  • CUA40815 - Certificate IV in Arts Administration
  • CUV30403 - Certificate III in Arts Administration
  • CUV30411 - Certificate III in Arts Administration
  • CUV40503 - Certificate IV in Arts Administration
  • CUV40511 - Certificate IV in Arts Administration.
  • Information and Community Cultural Services
  • CUA20515 - Certificate II in Information and Cultural Services
  • CUA40213 - Certificate IV in Community Culture
  • CUA40311 - Certificate IV in Community Culture.
  • Visual Arts Industry Work (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander)
  • CUA20315 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work
  • CUA50615 - Diploma of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work
  • CUV20313 - Certificate II in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Visual Arts Industry Work.

Total VET students and courses data is reported for the calendar year. Program enrolments are the qualifications, courses and skill-sets in which students are enrolled in a given period. For students enrolled in multiple programs, all programs are counted. Program completion indicates that a student has completed a structured and integrated program of education or training. Location data uses student residence. Subject enrolment is the registration of a student at a training delivery location for the purpose of undertaking a module, unit of competency or subject. For more information on the terms and definitions please refer to the Total VET students and courses: terms and definitions document. 

Low counts (less than five) are not reported to protect client confidentiality. 

Updated: 10 Feb 2021
To Top